President Paul Kagame yesterday arrived in Kampala, Uganda, to attend an emergency regional summit called to discuss a “lasting solution” to the ongoing conflict in the neighbouring DR Congo.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, the current chair of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), will preside over the summit.
By press time, it was not clear how many Heads of State and Government would attend but officials said Presidents Joseph Kabila of DR Congo, Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania and Salva Kirr of South Sudan were also expected.
Elly Kamahungye, the Spokesperson of Uganda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the UN Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, Mary Robinson, and African Union Commission chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, were among the other high profile guests.
This is the seventh ICGLR Extraordinary Heads of State and Government summit on the Congo crisis since the M23 rebellion broke out in April, 2012.
Previous regional summits had urged the warring parties to settle their differences through peace talks in Kampala, but the negotiations have since stalled with a section of actors opting for a military solution.
Today’s summit was preceded by parallel meetings of ICGLR ministers for defence and foreign affairs in Kampala.
The Chiefs of Defence Forces from the 12 member states also met separately, and were still locked in a meeting by the time we went to press.
The military chiefs were expected to report to the ministers who would in turn report to the Heads of State and Government summit today.
Rwandan ministers Louise Mushikiwabo (Foreign affairs) and James Kabarebe (Defence) as well as RDF Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Patrick Nyamvumba attended yesterday’s preparatory meetings.
ICGLR is composed of Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, DR Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia.
Over the last few weeks, the conflict in eastern Congo has threatened to spill over to Rwanda, after 36 mortar bombs landed into the western border district of Rubavu, killing a woman and seriously injuring her two-month son.
Kigali blamed the shelling on the Congolese army (FARDC) and FDLR, a militia largely responsible for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
Rwanda warned that the continued violation of its territorial integrity by the Congolese forces and the genocidal militia, which is said to be working with FARDC in several parts of eastern DRC, was no longer tolerable.
At the battlefield, the Congolese army are fighting alongside the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country, known as Monusco, particularly the members of a newly deployed 3000-strong battalion with a more robust mandate composed of troops from Tanzania, South Africa and Malawi.
The M23, one of the dozens of armed groups in the Congo, is composed of mutinous soldiers who took up arms early last year accusing Kinshasa of breaching a March 2009 deal that had integrated fighters from a previous rebellion in the regular army.